Transformation Should Focus On Improving Outcomes, Not Merely On Increasing Competition
I’ve spoken with many IT Procurement leaders in public sector organizations ranging from US county schools districts to national governments. Most are prevented from applying best practices such as Strategic Software Sourcing by their politicians’ ill-conceived edicts and directives, such as those included in this announcement by the UK’s Cabinet Office that optimistically claims “Government draws the line on bloated and wasteful IT contracts”. In related press interviews the relevant minister Francis Maude complained that “a tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace” and talked about his intention to encourage use of open source alternatives to products such as Microsoft Office, to increase competition and to divert more spend to small and medium-sized IT companies. The new edicts include bans of contracts over £100 million or 2 years’ duration and of automatic renewals. Mr. Maude claims these rules “will ensure the government gets the best technology at the best price”.
Mr. Maude and his team have a laudable and important goal but their approach is misguided, in my opinion. Short term contracts, indiscriminate competition and avoiding sole source category strategies will deliver neither the best technology nor the best price, because:
January is a time of lists. For some, it’s their 2014 resolutions. For me, it’s my post-Christmas to-do list. Inevitably, there will be quite a few thank-you letters to write (even for those unwanted presents that feed the January eCommerce activity). I will also be making my way to the bank to cash the checks I’ve received from the more removed (and dare I say older) relatives. And I won’t be alone: 23 million checks were sent as gifts in the United Kingdom in 2012. This unwanted yet unavoidable annual visit to the branch means that whilst checks might be a less risky present, they are not hassle-free. But hopefully not for much longer. In 2014, the UK government will finally consult on introducing legislation to speed up check payments, including through smartphone-enabled remote deposit capture. And about time.
In the US, bank customers have been using services like USAA’s Deposit@Home since December 2006. Remote deposit capture was initially only possible through a high-resolution scanner. Innovations in mobile technology have made remote deposits easier and more popular. By 2012, 13% of US online adults who have done mobile banking activities in the past three months reported depositing a check by taking a picture with their mobile device.